Joined up thinking // passion, authenticity & producing/

Joined up thinking // passion, authenticity & producing/

I was doing a storyboarding workshop with a couple of teenagers in Glasgows southside. Both girls were passionate about art and brilliant artists. We got chatting about what they want to do after high school. .

“I am going to study art at college” said one girl,

“I want to study childcare” said the other

“Really? But you love art” her friend was surprised

“Yeah if I study it it’ll become work. If I do it on the side it’ll still be fun”

It got me thinking again about “following your passion” (see my previous blog post). This is the mantra that the millennial generation, my generation, has grown up with. Love what you do.

Most of us are looking for job satisfaction.

As documentary PressPausePlay explores, we have more opportunities than ever before. Look at how the internet has democratized access. Anybody can be a director, filmmaker, artist, musician, entrepreneur, and expert….

Yet it’s even harder to be HEARD.

Yet we seem to be no more satisfied than any other generation. There is now such a thing as a quarter life crises.

Steve Jobs is probably the most famous advocate for doing what you love. In his Stanford Commencement speech he encourages

“You’ve got to find what you love, don’t settle”

Do what you love = success

We now think that if you do what you love, you will be happy, you will be a success. With that comes enormous pressure.

Unlike on the x-factor where everyone knew they wanted to be a singer when were 3, few us have an epiphany moment.

Follow your passion” assumes: a) you have a preexisting passion, and b) if you match this to your job, then you’ll enjoy that job

….Excitement comes and goes. True passion arises after you’ve put in the long hours to really become a craftsman in your field and can then leverage this value to really have an impact” Cal Newport, the


Cal Newport encourages us to rethink the idea of following your passion.

Rethink success.

The version of success we see all the time is

          – The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status



Success is also

     – The achievement of something, desired, planned or attempted.

The key here is to attempt. Try.


“Most people are so scared to loose they don’t even try” Kanye West.

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm” Winston Churchill

It means being vulnerable. You might fail. But there is a beauty in vulnerability.

It means being open and honest.

It means finding your voice.

(“Just be yourself,” another millennial mantra)

“Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you have an opinion you must say it and take the flack for it” Tony Benn, Last Will and Testament

If like me you constantly want to be liked, this is easier said than done.

The great news is that you express your voice by producing. Make as much stuff as you can, make stuff that makes your friends go wow. This blog is one way to produce, to express my honest ideas, opinions and thoughts.

Don’t know what to do? You just have to begin. Find things that you’re drawn to, things that frustrate you.

Keep going, it’ll come to you (that’s what they all say).

Time + doing= mastery

“To find success there is to find your own path, only way to find that path is to act, to start going” Casey Neistat, Tim Ferriss Podcast

“Always produce” is also a heuristic for finding the work you love….

….. what you should not do, I think is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world” Paul Graham, How to do what you love

“Get out of your own way, as soon as your ego gets in the way, and you go I don’t know if I know what to do next, you’ve already put “I” in front of it and blocked it a little bit.

…..Not knowing what’s gonna happen, but you trust it’ll be there. That when you put the brush on the canvas it’ll know where to go. The trust comes first.

…. It’s not gonna come for you if you just sit there waiting for it to happen. You have to act. As soon as you step forward even a little bit it starts sweeping you away.” Robert Rodriguez on Tim Ferriss podcast

I love interviews and biographies and I’ve have found that the common thing between so many people we perceive as “successful” is that they are attempting to make the world better in some way.

However there are no two people in the same position in the same field that had the same journey. After all we all have different starting points! It’s often a series of seemingly random decisions. That’s the good news and the bad news. So how do we know which decisions are right.

“Instinct and ideas. That’s what it’s all about” John Carpenter on the Directors Chair.

Trust your instinct and move on them, make decisions, with incomplete information. No one knows the answers. There are no answers. Again PRODUCE>

Cultivate your instinct. This needs us to be present and be open. It’s challenging in our current culture of distraction. Taking time, even a few moments a day, for “you” can work wonders. Whatever suits, journaling, meditating, praying, exercising…

<Producing means you can get good at being you.

You don’t have to be unique; you don’t have to be special. You have to be “you.”

And your “you” isn’t one thing all the time.

“Life is about integrating different parts of yourself and finding you authentic self. Your authentic self has a lot of dimensions.” Isabel Guerrero

Being our authentic self is probably the hardest thing we can do.

                                              It’s the most liberating thing we can do.

I’m on the quest to produce, find and amplify my actual self. I don’t know how the journey will go, but join me if you wish 🙂

For more reading, watching and listening here are my favourites!

John Waters commencement speech

The art of being yourself, Caroline McHugh

Neil Gainman commencement speech

 The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown

 6 Harsh Thruths That Will Make You a Better Person, David Wong

 Robert Rodriguez interview on the Tim Ferriss Podcast

Create more value than you capture, Tim O’Reilly

How to do what you love, Paul Graham 


(That’s enough thinking for one day!)

Addition 25/11/15

Some more interesting observations in this Tim Ferriss interview with Will MaCaskill (listen from about 1hr 25mins in). Talk about the dangerous myth of the dream job.
Most people dont have work related passions (as Cal Newport explains)
our preferences and passions change as we get older
& passion may not last past the when its an obligation and not an option.
 The biggest predictor of job satisfaction is mentally engaging work. Work with variety, good feedback, meaningful in some way and allows you to exercise and develop your skills.
Interestingly Will encourages us to look at our 80,000 work hours as stages in our lives and not as a one path career. So it’s about building a broad range of skills including meta skills that we can transfer. And thinking about the futurenow (as a friend of mine calls it), looking at what we can focus on now to maximise the long term.
His enterprise 80000 Hours has some more great insights (